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Face of downtown Fort Mill changing

Developer Kent Olson plans to build a three-story office and commercial center, similar to this rendering, at the corner of Springs and Tom Hall streets in downtown Fort Mill.
Developer Kent Olson plans to build a three-story office and commercial center, similar to this rendering, at the corner of Springs and Tom Hall streets in downtown Fort Mill.

FORT MILL -- Another downtown building came down last weekend, but unlike the last two that fell, this one was not a victim of fire.

Rather, it is a sign of new life.

From the rubble of the old post office building at Springs and Tom Hall streets, developer Kent Olson plans to build a three-story office and retail complex, said Lynette Glenn, a Realtor involved with the project.

Glenn and Olson hope to attract a restaurant tenant and some retailers to the ground floor of the planned 20,000-square-foot building. The upper floors will be used for office space.

"We really want to celebrate Fort Mill," Glenn said. "We want to respect the historic aspect, but also bring in something nice and fresh to Fort Mill."

Olson said he hopes to capitalize on the redevelopment that Fort Mill and private owners have begun downtown. The town spent hundreds of thousands to repave and reline parking lots behind both sides of Main Street.

The town plans to spend thousands more on crosswalks and streetscape improvements. It is working on a partnership with Chip Smith of Process Equipment to redevelop the theater at Main and Academy streets.

Some downtown property owners have taken steps to update and reuse old buildings, including the former home of Southern Auctions, now the site of The Gym at 214 Main St.

Southern Management, the Fort Mill school district's construction consultant, bought the site of Fort Mill Community Church and is renovating the upstairs for an office. It will look to rent out the first floor to a retail business.

Other property owners, such as Pete Lang of Conservation by Design, built a new building. And S.E. Miller Construction, which owns the open lot across Springs Street from Olson's property, has announced plans to eventually build a multistory mixed-use building there after an 1890s era home was torn down two years ago.

Fort Mill attorney Bayles Mack, who owns several properties downtown, plans to rebuild on the former site of Tony's Pizza, which burned more than a year ago. That project is scheduled to be done in conjunction with plans to redevelop part of Confederate Park and will include a multistory building with a restaurant or retail on the first floor and offices or apartments upstairs.

Across the railroad tracks, Fort Mill is working with Lang's firm to develop a mixed-use project on about 2 acres it's leasing from Springs Global.

Olson has not decided on a name for his new project. He wants to involve the town, Glenn said.

"We're going to host a contest for Fort Mill to name the project and building," Glenn said. "It will remain nameless until Fort Mill names it."

Town residents will be able to submit their suggested name by e-mail to namethatbuilding@bellsouth.net. Suggestions should be about 100 words and detail why that name is the best.

Entries are limited to one per person, and there will be a limited time in which to submit names, though a deadline has not been set, Glenn said.

Olson, Glenn, Fort Mill Mayor Danny Funderburk and Planning Director Andy Merrimann will serve as judges.

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